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400+ WGA West Members Pledge to Demand Guild Contracts for Animation Projects

TheWrap logo TheWrap 8/9/2022 Jeremy Fuster
animation guild roundtable © Provided by TheWrap animation guild roundtable

After the ratification of the Animation Guild's contract with Hollywood studios, the push to end writer pay disparity between live-action and animated productions has shifted over to the Writers Guild of America, where more than 400 members have signed a pledge to demand studios agree to a WGA contract on animated productions.

Among the signees to the pledge are several major showrunners including "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, Amy Poehler, J.J. Abrams and "BoJack Horseman" creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg.

In addition, WGA West announced in a memo to members that it has created the Animation Writers Organizing Committee, which will be led by former "The Simpsons" writer Mike Scully alongside former guild presidents David A. Goodman and Patric Verrone.

The committee says it will work with any writer or showrunner in pushing for their show's writing staff to be paid under a WGA contract, something that the guild has pushed for since 2020 when production on animation projects continued while live-action shoots were shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Unlike live action, Guild coverage for animation is not guaranteed by the Minimum Basic Agreement, so writers must demand it. Over the years, writers have successfully fought for and won coverage for numerous animation projects," the guild wrote in the memo.

"Increasingly, however, some studios and production companies are insisting that WGA coverage is a 'non-starter' - even for WGA members - and force them to work under another union's contract, where they receive less money, inferior health and pension benefits, and no residuals. For writers who have previously worked on Guild-covered animated shows, this is an extreme rollback."

The other contract referred to in the memo belongs to the Animation Guild, or IATSE Local 839, which made writer pay disparity one of the core elements of its organizing campaign during its own contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

As part of those talks, the Animation Guild negotiated a new pay scale system for animation writers that establishes four tiers of minimums based on experience ranging from $1,834 up to $2,900 for the highest tier, providing a baseline of pay that the guild will look to raise in future contract talks. Reps for the Animation Guild declined to comment.

But given that many animation writers are members of both WGA and The Animation Guild, the shift to organizing for better animation pay ahead of what is expected to be a contentious contract negotiating period in 2023 between the WGA and AMPTP is expected. The demand to close loopholes that allow studios to reduce writer pay extends to streaming residuals, which the WGA and other Hollywood labor unions have argued are not commensurate with the popularity of streaming as a medium over the past 15 years.


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